Leader of the Opposition Andrew Fahie was the only elected representative at a crucial community meeting in Road Town last evening, prompting uncertainty as to whether there will be bi-partisan commitment to using a European Union-funded report as a road-map for future development in the British Virgin Islands.
The territory’s Chief Planner Gregory Adams and Deputy Governor Rosalie Adams suggested that the findings of the ongoing ‘EnVIsion 2040’ assessment should be incorporated in future election manifestos to be crafted by each political party.
A resident of Tortola, Kareem-Nelson Hull, declared that he would have had more confidence in the project if there was a guarantee that – regardless of which party is in power – the Government of the Virgin Islands would accept the recommendations that will be presented following the assessment, which is being spearheaded by external forces.
In response to Hull, the chief planner said he could not give such guarantee that the elected representatives will adopt the developmental plan. He however noted that the assessment is based on local public opinion, and so the public should ensure that the elected representatives adopt the recommendations.
“We can’t guarantee it. But our best chance at ensuring that the political will doesn’t deliver too far away from this vision, is to make sure that it is a vision that is crafted by the community – and that means all spectrums of the community,” the chief planner said.
He further stated that the researchers intend to hold discussions with the elected representatives.
“I am sure you know that each parties has their manifesto. Ultimately, what becomes the manifesto should really come out of this plan…”
“The way that we ensure that every four years [when there is an election] we are not charting a new course, is by setting this plan in motion that becomes the road-map that we as the people – since we crafted it – will hold our leaders responsible to say ‘listen, we hear you, but we already have a vision…” the chief planner further said.
The deputy governor, Rosalie Adams, also supported the call for elected representatives to be guided by the assessment being conducted. “A plan such as this will give us the cohesiveness that we need. I’ve always said, when people are going to campaign [during election], they should have certain documents to speak to the people about.”
“A plan like this would give that general overview – putting it in the hands of all the [election] candidates. And then we will be able to see how well they are gonna speak to the topics [presented in the plan], and whether they are the ones who should go ahead as leaders,” added the deputy governor.
In the meantime, the Opposition leader, Fahie, who was the only elected representative at the meeting, indicated that he would have no difficulty sticking to the assessment if he become premier.
“Once we involve the short term, mid-term and the long term planning, anyone that is leading you – I don’t care who, would have to be foolish not to buy into [the development plan], because the people have shown that this is what they want for 2040, and this is what they want to move with into 2040, and also this is what they do not want moving into 2040,” Fahie said. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour also said it supports the research.
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